Content is no longer king.
Today, interactive content is the boss: 93% of marketers rate interactive content as highly effective in educating potential customers:
Today’s online shoppers want to interact with brands. They want to actively interact with products and services before they make a purchase.
As a result, static, text-rich content alone is insufficient. Of course, it’s still very important – choosing the right topic and optimizing your (text) content for search plays an important role in making sure you get seen. But in today’s digital marketing landscape, interactive content is the fuel brands need to succeed.
In this post, we’ll tell you how to make interactive content work for your business.
Let’s dive in!
What is interactive content?
Interactive content is any type of content, such as calculators, estimates and interactive infographics, white papers and videos that require and encourage users to actively interact with it rather than passively consume it.
Over the years, multiple sources have pointed out that human attention is supposedly declining, putting us below the goldfish who are said to be distracted. Although many people have bought into the concept of an eight-second attention span, the BBC and Ceros have subsequently ripped that theory to shreds:
“Think about it. If our attention span really is eight seconds, then how come we’re watching Netflix? Why was a 45-minute music video the hit of the summer? Why are more people spending more time playing video games?”
Whatever your opinion on the matter, one thing we know for sure: Today’s consumers love interactive content, as the following statistics prove:
- Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media – and it increases conversions by 86%.
- 360-degree videos are watched 28.81% more, and twice as many viewers watch videos up to 100%.
- People spend 4 times more time watching live videos than pre-recorded videos.
The benefits of using interactive content
Any good marketer will ask: Is interactive content worth the hype?
The short answer is yes.
Here are three good reasons why you should use interactive content in your marketing strategy:
Generate higher engagement rates
80% of Internet users will watch a video, but only 20% will read the content.
Not only does interactivity increase conversions by up to 40-50%, but people just love to share cool, unique interactive content, by as much as 28%:
Even the simplest types of interactive content can elicit a reaction, making it immediately more engaging than a written article – even a well-written one.
William Comcovich, CEO of CyberAlert, believes that:
“Content marketing is becoming less and less about the words you put on the page and more and more about the experience you create for the consumer.
Competition is fierce, in all industries and in all niches. Standing out isn’t easy, so it’s even more important to optimize your content so that it offers a more engaging and compelling experience.
Quite often, brands offer interactive content as a lead magnet to gather email addresses. The people who sign up for it usually have a genuine interest in the brand. Therefore, they are more engaged and more likely to make a conversion.
Collect more data
In this age of data, the data we collect about users online is perhaps the most valuable information for marketers. The more data you get – and the more accurate and relevant it is – the better you can optimize your marketing campaigns.
The challenge for many companies is finding effective ways to get data in a way that people trust and respect.
Data leaks such as the scandal between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have undermined trust in large corporations, making people cautious about sharing personal information online:
So how can interactive content help?
When you create compelling content that captures a person’s attention and offers a personalized experience, you’ll have an easier time convincing people to share their data. Users will enjoy the process, and you’ll get valuable data to work with potential customers.
Increase brand loyalty
Quizzes, surveys, and polls are a few examples of interactive content you can use to collect lead data, which in turn will allow you to create personalized content. Follow the E.A.T. principle to establish yourself as an expert:
- Expertise: the page should have quality content written by an expert.
- Authority: the site itself should have some authority on the topic
- Credibility: the site should have other authoritative links pointing to it from credible sites.
By gathering data through interactive content, you learn more about your audience, which makes it easier to create content they will enjoy. This approach to targeted content marketing will soon lead to establishing trust and authority, and you can grow an audience that will come back again and again.
Top 12 Best Types of Interactive Content
The benefits of interactive content are quite obvious: It’s highly engaging for online users and serves as a powerful tool for marketers to gather valuable data to generate leads. Over time, this data will guide your content marketing efforts, helping you win loyal brand advocates.
With that in mind, it’s time to answer an important question: What are the best types of interactive content?
1) Interactive Infographics.
Today, 40.2% of marketers say infographics are the best visual format for engaging audiences – more so than videos, presentations and data visualizations.
That’s pretty impressive. Just a few years ago, in 2017, infographics were considered simply the most popular form of content. But these days, the competition is much greater because almost everyone is creating infographics, so just publishing an infographic isn’t enough. Instead, you need to engage users by incorporating interactive content into the infographic.
Creating interactive infographics will take more time and effort, but the payoff is worth it because you’ll get compelling content that will attract more attention and generate more social shares.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at these examples of interactive infographics and try to tell us they’re not engaging!
1) Analysis of The Beatles Band.
Whether you’re a fan of this iconic band or not, this infographic is a fantastic example of interactive content that is both fun and educational.
You can play with different elements to learn all about the band members and their contributions to the many hits that made The Beatles so famous.
2) The daily routine of creative people
Feeling confused about how to structure your day? This interactive infographic (which you can share but not embed) shows the daily routines of some of the greatest minds in history.
You can filter each category by clicking on the little colored squares at the top (“sleep,” “creative work,” “day job/administration,” etc.) to find out when these inspired artists focused on creative work, when they exercised, and how much sleep they got (or didn’t get!).
The popular hashtag #MeToo blew up the world in late 2017 and early 2018, prompting millions of women to talk about their experiences with sexual assault.
This interactive infographic (which can be shared but not embedded) shows the growth of the movement and the interweaving network of tweets and conversations. Everything is cleverly presented as a dandelion, with each seed showing a different tweet.
2) Interactive video.
According to Wyzowl, 85% of marketers use video as a marketing tool, up significantly from 61% just four years ago:
A video marketing tool
As Ann Handley, director of content at MarketingProfs, puts it:
“Video is not just something we can watch while reclining in a chair. It’s also increasingly something we can interact with – leaning forward and participating.”
So what about interactive video content?
Video is inherently an immersive experience, making it one of the easiest types of interactive content to use in marketing. Video gives marketers creative freedom when communicating brand messages and allows them to engage consumers in a way that text or still images cannot.
A Wyzowl report showed that interactive video is on the rise: 21% of video marketers plan to incorporate interactive video into their video marketing strategy in 2020, up from 20% in 2018. What’s more:
When viewers interact with video, their attention stays on the content, resulting in a 591% increase in user engagement.
Let’s take a look at a few successful examples of interactive video content over the past year.
1) Know no Better.
This video by Major Lazer depicts a shy boy with a passion for dancing who hopes to win the girl of his dreams. The clip has an interactive element that allows viewers to click on the screen to switch between “reality” and “dream,” where they can watch the plot unfold.image1
2) Scotland from the sky
BBC Scotland has created a spectacular 360° video of the Glen Coe Valley. This spectacular landscape is worth seeing, and this interactive video highlights why Scotland is often called one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
3) Surveys and polls
Surveys and questionnaires are some of the most commonly used types of interactive content, especially on social media. You can quickly set them up and use them to gather useful information from your audience, such as
- Consumer feedback on your content, products, services or customer service
- Audience information, including names, addresses, locations, interests, etc.
customer preferences, such as industries, preferred brands, product categories, or prices.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between a survey and a questionnaire, let me explain:
A survey consists of only one multiple-choice question, while a questionnaire contains multiple questions.
On a website, polls are usually located at the bottom of the screen and are very unobtrusive, requiring minimal interaction, so they can be completed quickly. Surveys are more complex and require more interaction.
As one of the oldest types of interactive content, surveys and questionnaires have stood the test of time because people find them unobtrusive, enticing and interesting to complete.
The trick here is not to ask for too much, as you might scare people away and therefore end up getting nothing at all. Check out the examples below to get an idea of what a successful survey looks like:
Over the past decade, Netflix has evolved from a simple DVD delivery service to a cutting-edge streaming content company. Its success is based on fantastic marketing that relies heavily on user feedback.
This interactive survey was included in the brand’s email marketing newsletter, which helped provide the information needed to improve streaming content:
2) Hilton Hotels.
If you want to see an example of how surveys are done right, check out Hilton Hotels. After each survey, Hilton conducts a thorough analysis of the data and then responds by taking consumers’ opinions into account. As a result, they now get at least a 30% response rate to their surveys, and their abandonment rate is down 6% over the year:
Interactive calculators are designed to solve specific problems and provide immediate answers, giving users instant gratification. The nature of this design makes this type of interactive content ideal for generating leads because it can provide a quick win for people who are in the middle of the buyer’s journey.
If a consumer is weighing their options, an interactive calculator can give them the ROI or savings insight they need to make a purchase decision.
The advantage of interactive calculators is that they require little effort on the part of the user. But in return, they offer clean data and nothing extra, giving users accurate results on which to base their decisions.
Below are two examples of successful calculators that have delighted users and resulted in more leads:
1) HubSpot – Ads Profitability Calculator
In paid advertising, no one wants to throw their money away. With HubSpot, you can get clear predictions on what ROI to expect from your efforts.
Just enter your calculations on aspects like monthly budget, target conversion rate, average selling price, and then the calculator will do the rest:
The results are broken down to give you an idea of key metrics, including:
- Number of clicks
- Number of leads
- Cost per lead
- Cost per lead
- Expected revenue
- Expected profit
- Profitability of advertising expenses
By having an interactive calculator like this on your site, you can get an idea of what problems users are trying to solve, whether it’s a low budget, high costs, or low conversion rate.
2) Quartz at Work – How much does your job offer really cost?
Getting a new job is great – until you realize you’ve accepted a salary that’s not that great. Quartz at Work offers a simple calculator to help you determine the value of your time, taking into account salary, stock options, retirement accruals and other job benefits.
Quartz at Work’s job offer calculator
3) Marketing profitability calculator from Single Grain
Digital marketing agency Single Grain provides a handy marketing profitability calculator. Simple questions like “What is your average monthly traffic?” and “How many leads are you getting from your site each month?” will let you see some valuable metrics for your business.
SG Marketing Impact Calculator
Evaluations are a type of interactive content in which the user answers a few questions in exchange for valuable information based on the topic of the questions. It is an objective form of receiving quality feedback.
By its very nature, evaluations allow creators to gain a lot of information about the user. Interestingly, assessments are the most valuable form of interactive content – regardless of where the user is in the buyer’s journey – so it benefits both parties.
Here are a few examples of evaluations:
1) Trunk Club.
Trunk Club uses interactive evaluations to help men put together a great closet for any occasion. Users fill out a style profile by answering questions to give a personal stylist an idea of their style and budget.
After the assessment, people can communicate directly with the stylist before browsing and shopping.
2) SmartBug Media.
If you’re questioning your inbound marketing strategy and whether it will have the impact you’re hoping for next year, you might want to check out this tool from SmartBug.
The 15-minute assessment is a smart use of one of the best types of interactive content, as it helps users take an inside look at their marketing efforts and helps SmartBug learn a lot about their potential customers.
6) Interactive eBooks and white papers
Next up are two types of interactive content that aren’t as attention-grabbing as flashy infographics or video marketing: white papers and e-books.
E-books and white papers contain a tremendous amount of information in a concise and compact format. But therein lies the problem, as today’s consumers want an easy road to instant gratification.
Is this the death of these long-form text behemoths of content marketing? Probably not yet.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 50% of B2B marketers listed white papers as one of the top three channels for generating leads and sales. And 76% of buyers are willing to provide their information in exchange for a white paper.
So if you can create interactive ebooks and whitepapers, you’re taking valuable core content and immediately increasing its engaging, interesting and distributability.
Take a look at how these brands have succeeded with these types of interactive content:
EIF (European Investment Fund), which supports entrepreneurship and innovation and has been funding small businesses in the EU and beyond for 25 years, produced perhaps a very dry white paper.
Instead, they turned their annual report into a colorful, interactive document with memorable illustrations that is easy to navigate to different sections by clicking on tabs at the top.
White papers have a reputation for being boring. Certainly a technical document can turn into a bore, especially when compared to shorter and more engaging types of content.
CodinGame did a great job on this interactive document, using animated diagrams and clever design to break up all the information in a way that makes the document very readable and engaging.
Related Content: How to increase lead generation and authority with white papers
7) Interactive emails.
In a post about the best types of interactive content, you might be surprised to find that emails are featured. You might even think that good old email is being sent to pasture and replaced by innovative marketing technology.
But you’d be wrong.
Email has a unique value in that it allows you to communicate with people directly, one-on-one, rather than as part of a public broadcast message (like social media).
This inherent intimacy gives email an advantage, even in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Sure, it has its drawbacks, but email isn’t dead yet. Why? Because – you guessed it – we can make email interactive.
You can incorporate interactive elements like videos, surveys, charts, games and more into your emails to increase discoverability and engagement.
According to Campaign Monitor:
Interactive email content increases open rates by 73%, and adding videos can increase email click-through rates by 300%.
Here are some examples of interactive emails done right:
1) Tom Ruffield – furniture designer.
This interactive email from Tom Ruffield uses gamification, asking recipients “Can you guess where we’re going?” and then giving them some clues. Recipients can use their mouse to scroll through each clue and then answer it with their answer.
2) Nike – Train like a pro.
This sports retail giant cleverly uses tooltips in this email, allowing recipients to get more information about their workouts simply by hovering over the plus icons. This interactive element is easy to add, but it makes the letter fun and refreshing compared to simple text emails.
Nike Train Like a Pro
8) Product Recommendations.
ConversionXL defines recommendation systems as:
“Information filtering tools that use algorithms and data to recommend the most relevant products to a particular user in a particular context.”
Nowadays, virtually every online shopper uses some form of product recommendation system. If you’ve ever been to Amazon, you’ve definitely used such a system-even if you didn’t know it:
The retailer derives a significant portion of its revenue from personalized product recommendations that are generated by artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms:
35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from its recommendation system.
So how can marketers create their own interactive product recommendation tool? The good news is that it doesn’t require the resources of Jeff Bezos, nor does it require a massive task that will take months to launch.
Here’s the secret: an interactive product recommendation system is just a quiz cleverly crafted to direct people to your products and services.
Take a look here to see how it’s done:
1) Pete & Pedro: Hair styling product for men
It’s not always easy to choose the right hair styling product. With this interactive tool from Pete & Pedro, you can quickly find the right product for you based on your answers to a few short questions about your preferred style, shine and hold.
Pete & Pedro.
2) Brooklyn Bicycle Co.
This bicycle manufacturer wanted to appeal to customers in a more personal way. Teaming up with Macroscape, the marketing consultancy turned to interactive content to drum up interest in the bike brand.
These interactive product recommendations make the buying process more enjoyable and engaging, which is great for consumers. It wasn’t too bad for Brooklyn Bicycle Co. either, as the campaign delivered a 36 percent increase in conversions!
9) Data visualizations.
Did you know that the human brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text?
We’re visual creatures, and marketers can take advantage of that by taking something hard to digest – like huge data sets – and turning it into something aesthetically pleasing… like a colorful visual report.
Here are some great examples of this.
The “selfies” craze is so massive that Selfiecity.net decided to do a very in-depth international study on the subject. After collecting 3,840 selfies from participants in New York, Sao Paulo, London, Berlin, Moscow and Bangkok, the site published a report visualizing the data.
You can use filters in this interactive content to narrow down the results. In the image below, the city filter is set simply to “New York” (640 of 3,840 selfies were taken). You can add a filter by age or gender to further narrow down the results, or you can drill down into the results by pose and mood, for example.
10) Diagnostic Tools
If you’re in the business of selling software, automated diagnostic tools are one of the best types of interactive content you can offer your audience.
Whether it’s a freemium version of your SaaS product or a simple assessment tool that evaluates a specific element of your customers’ website, diagnostic tools are excellent for three reasons:
- They are authoritative because they give people valuable data they can use.
- They are credible because people have a lot of faith in their results.
- They’re easy to use, which keeps people coming back.
Here are some popular interactive diagnostic tools that you might have come across in the SEO field:
1) AMI Headline Analyzer.
In search engines, your headline is the bait that drives people to your site.
This interactive tool from Advanced Marketing Institute allows you to evaluate the emotional and intellectual impact of your headlines. It’s a great tool for creating compelling headlines – and it’s also addictive!
2) Link Explorer.
This tool from Moz was once known as Open Site Explorer. Although the name has changed, the essence hasn’t. Just enter your site’s domain, and you’ll have access to regularly updated information about your site’s backlinks.
Who doesn’t love a good contest?
If you have prizes that people want and an audience that will share your campaign, a contest can be one of the best types of interactive content. Not only will it increase brand awareness and engage the masses on social media, but it will also help you gain lots of new email subscribers and potential customers.
Brands have been running simple social media contests for years, asking people to like, comment or share posts to participate. Now, with video, you can turn contests into a more interactive experience that thrives on user-generated content (UGC).
61% of people are more likely to interact with ads if they contain UGC.
Here’s a successful example:
1) Chubbies’ search for male models.
Chubbies, a company that makes short shorts for men “specifically for Magnum P.I. fans and bros,” turned to user-generated content for this contest.
They encouraged men to send in photos of themselves wearing Chubbies shorts, announcing that the winner would get a chance to model for the brand. The contest drew nearly 300,000 entries, generating a buzz with lots of lighthearted and humorous submissions from men of all shapes and sizes.
12) Augmented Reality.
Finally, we have to mention augmented reality (AR). It’s not going away, you know. In fact, marketers are just getting started with it.
There are three types of XR:
- Virtual Reality (VR) – where users wear VR headsets to immerse themselves in a virtual world.
- Augmented reality (AR) – layering graphics on top of the real environment.
- Mixed reality (MR) – a combination of VR and AR, offering interactive content that people can manipulate.
Let’s look at how these types of interactive content are used today.
1) Sephora Virtual Artist.
The average woman spends a lot of money a year on beauty products – $300,000 in a lifetime, according to online retailer SkinStore – so she wants to make sure she’s buying the best products for her needs.
With Sephora’s AR tool, women can try out products from the comfort of their own homes. Augmented reality uses filters to show women what makeup products will look like:
Sephora lip ar
2) Pokémon Go.
If we’re talking about augmented reality, we should mention Pokémon Go. The biggest AR game in history took over the planet in 2016 and has continued to captivate gamers ever since. Who would have thought that interactive content based on the idea of catching fictional creatures on your smartphone would be so engaging?
The game was so popular that it led to a whole series of car accidents because people were so engrossed in the game that they unwittingly got caught in traffic. Thirty-one people were reportedly injured and two died. Two more men fell off a cliff in California and survived (yes, seriously – grown, adult men chasing Pokémon!).
We don’t advise you to create dangerous AR content, just make it fun!